I’d like to welcome my newest food baby into the world.
I won’t bother you with the weight and length, that would probably be a little graphic. But let’s just say I’m a proud parent. Might even invest in one of those obnoxious “My child is an honor student!” bumper stickers people so tactfully slap on the back of their minivan. Although in this case my child is not an honor student but rather the product of a delicious dinner at The Retreat in Liverpool.
This place is definitely a favorite of mine, and the menu offers a lot of variety at modest prices. Usually I’m a little skeptical when a menu is so diverse, it opens the door for the possibility of a lesser quality food. When there are so many options, I find the restaurant will often sacrifice quality in honor of diversity. But, this is not so at The Retreat!
I recommend going with a good number of people so you can all dig into each other’s meals and try as much as you can! I was fortunate enough to go with some great people who just happen to have some fabulous taste as well. There were a few couples canoodling (someone please slap me for using that word) in the corners, there were plenty of families and groups of friends out to eat too. It’s a great setting that’s sure to fit whatever type of night you’re trying to have.
Utica Greens at The Retreat
We started off with the Utica Greens, an appetizer that I’ve seen frequent many a Syracuse restaurant. It’s escarole sautéed in olive oil with peppers, garlic, Asiago or pecorino cheese, and of course pancetta. It’s got the consistency of collard greens or sautéed spinach, but the flavor is a bit different. This dish was served with the cheese browned on the top, and was delicious! The pancetta was very flavorful and the greens weren’t soaking in olive oil, which was nice. Sometimes I’ve gotten the greens from other restaurants and wished I’d brought along a snorkel for the amount of oil that was present. But The Retreat does a nice dish! Although, I still say the best Utica Greens in the area (that I’ve had so far) are at Gentile’s.
Whiskey Pineapple Chicken (Sauce on the side)
For my entrée, I got the Whiskey Pineapple Chicken. Just take that all in. Whiskey. Pineapple. Chicken. The menu modestly describes this sauce as “zesty.” I think this is a code word for “orgasmic.” This sauce is out of bounds. I think I took it a little too far when I asked our server if they sold it by the quart (the answer was unfortunately “no.”). The chicken had that awesome char-grill flavor that just can’t be imitated, and the green beans it came with were cooked just right.
Jenna ordered the Chicken Riggies, a pasta dish that’s reserved for the bold and the brave. So much flavor, so much food, you need to know what you’re getting yourself
Chicken Riggies at The Retreat
into. But, Jenna’s a champ so I had no doubts. Chicken Riggies are fresh chicken tenderloins sautéed with hot cherry peppers, mushrooms, julienned onions, white wine, Italian herbs, Asiago and Romano cheese, tossed with rigatonis (of course) in The Retreat’s “cream sauce supreme.” The highlight for me was the chicken, it was literally melt in your mouth and so soft (I know that’s a weird way to describe chicken, but order this and you’ll know what I’m talking about). I would exchange my tempur-pedic pillow for this chicken it was so tender. Extreme? Perhaps. Necessary? Yes. The sauce was good, and the veggies in the pasta were great. Although I am extremely biased and snobby when it comes to pasta after my semester in Italy, this dish was definitely a contender.
Chicken Pita at The Retreat
Alanah was kind enough to order the other dish I was thinking of getting before the words Whiskey Pineapple made my decision for me. She got the Chicken Pita, which was a perfect example of the “less is more” theory. This dish was just a boneless chicken breast in a pita with lettuce, tomato grilled onions (nom) with a side of cucumber sauce. May sound lack luster to you, but honestly this was GREAT! I will definitely be getting this next time I go (aka tomorrow). The pita was SO SOFT! I’m sure my chicken tenderloin pillow won’t keep too long, so I’ll use the pita as a back up. It was soft, not too thick, and a really great flavor, even being just a simple little pita. The chicken of course was great (I am biased when it comes to chicken, given the opportunity I would eat it for just about every meal), and the cucumber sauce was very light and refreshing. GREAT dish, great size, great choice!
My Mom was kind enough to join our group today, and made a great culinary choice per usual. She got the Chicken Foccacia Melt, a grilled chicken breast with imported Havarti cheese served on grilled Foccacia bread. They also throw on some roasted red peppers,
Chicken Foccacia Sandwich at The Retreat
sweet onion, and some mixed greens. All this served with a Bistro-mayo on the side. Let me first say that I HATE mayonnaise, it grosses me out, and we don’t have a good history together. But this Bistro-mayo is good. I enjoyed it. The sandwich was good too, I’m going to stop myself before going on about the chicken, but as I’m sure you can guess, it was very good. I loved the mix of veggies on this sandwich, and the cheese was a great add-on. The bread was soft and didn’t detract from the rest of the flavors. Great choice!
“Dessert is not an option. It is necessary.”
– Jenna Cottrell
Maybe the wisest words to grace my ears.
How true. HOW true. And thank goodness, The Retreat’s dessert menu is just as extensive as the rest of their menu. It took us about ten minutes to decide, and that was with the help of our awesome and knowledgable server Michelle. ASK FOR HER, SHE IS GREAT! After much consideration and deliberation, it was decided that the “Peanut Butter Thunder” would be the dish to end the evening. Talk about a happy ending (that’s what she said). This dessert was honestly the best I’ve had in a while.
Peanut Butter Thunder at The Retreat
Now, I don’t know if Michelle cut the piece herself, but it was VERY generously sliced, and of course served with 4 forks. It’s again, so simple, yet so amazing. Just chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and peanuts on top. It’s layered and looks absolutely massive. BUT DON’T BE INTIMIDATED. Keep calm and carry on. Or in this case just pick up your fork and dig in before the others realize how good it is. This cake looked like it would make your teeth fall out, but was actually SO light and so wonderful. The chocolate cake part was definitely good, but I think the standout was the peanut butter frosting. It had a whipped, moussey (not a word but, oh well) consistency and wasn’t like being punched in the face by an over-zealous Mr. Peanut. It’s flavor was subtle, yet always reminded you of its presence. Kind of like that one big guy friend you bring out with you at night so no randos bug you. You know he’s there, but he’s not all up in your face distracting you from the rest of your friends. Thanks, peanut butter frosting. You do so much without doing anything at all. The Peanut Butter Thunder was a great way to end the evening, although I’m sure the “thunder” part of the name comes from the thunder thighs you will surely receive as you are leaving the restaurant. Oh well. YOLO.
Overall, great food, great atmosphere, great service. And in case you just skipped down to the rating, here are the highlights:
1. Chicken Pita: bangin.
2. Whiskey Pineapple Chicken: oh wow.
3. PEANUT BUTTER THUNDER: just order it first and save yourself the trouble of anticipation.
Go to The Retreat! Wonderful spot for just about any occasion, and they even do catering and banquets. I will definitely be returning, and soon. Tonight, I left with No Leftovers.
Out of 5 chef hats…
Food Quality: 4
Bang for your Buck: 4.7
Coming Back? YES!
Extras: Jenna’s Whale Bread (please notice delicately placed butter pupil)
Jenna’s Whale Bread